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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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period., but even during that period. From the first moment when Russia
realised that a victory of the United Nations would be improbable without
her, she began the policy of increasing her demands. In the first
stages, these demands were paid on account by the weaker members of
the Allied camp and by the supplies of material from its richer partners.
In the case of Poland, this policy of the Kremlin was made easier by the
fact that it had a first-class instrument to wield, namely, those numerous
Polish hostages. Later, when Russia finally decided not to let these
people go, the Kremlin had found other means of exerting pressure on
the Polish Government using the medium of the other Allies for this
Molotov arrived in London, in May, 1942, amid the greatest secrecy,
to negotiate with the British Government. One of the main points of
these negotiations was that Great Britain should recognise Russia's
annexation of half Poland and the Baltic States, that is, to recognise the
partition accomplished by the Soviets with the connivance of Germany.
Since this demand was put at a time when the position held by the
Russians on their front-line was still not enviable, it was reckoned, in the
opinion of the Kremlin, as the maximum they could demand at that time.
With success at the front, this demand was to be gradually increased.
A year earlier, when Germany had been standing at the climax of her
strength, the same Molotov had asked in Berlin that Russia should share
in the partition of Europe, and be given the Turkish Straits and Northern
Norway—the outlet to the Mediterranean with its direct threat to the
Suez Canal, and an outlet to the North Atlantic. Thus by two widely
outstretched arms, to embrace all Europe.
In London the demands which Molotov presented to the British
Government were, for the time being, more modest. A Note and map
explained how Russia had interpreted the Atlantic Charter and paragraph
5 of the British-Soviet Treaty, concerning the " renouncement of terri-
torial claims " and the " non-interference in the affairs of other States,"
to which she had put her signature. These daims in the beginning of
1942, as the well-informed Times wrote on March 7, " . . . nowhere go
beyond the territories embodied in the Soviet Union when Hitler marched
against it." Therefore, nowhere beyond half Poland, Lithuania, Estonia,
Latvia, part of Finland, Bessarabia and Bukovina, The opinion of the
British Cabinet was not unanimous on this interpretation. The Times,
explaining the Russian point of view, pointed out that, as to the Atlantic
Charter, the Soviet demand was " in no way incompatible with the
security of Europe, which the framework of the Atlantic Charter thought
to insure."
The Russians asked that the British consent to their demands should
be inserted in the Treaty. It is surmised that only the intervention of
Winant, the American Ambassador, "who convinced Molotov that
publishing them would have a catastrophkal effect on American opinion "